So here we were watching the game on Friday night between the Leopards and the Blue Bulls when 5 minutes into the second half the Blue Bulls mauled the ball for about 30 meters to score a try, or was it?
My initial reaction to the move was that there was no way in hell that could be a try. At one stage the Blue Bulls players seemed to peel off the maul with 3 players running towards the try-line unopposed by any Leopards players, with the ball carrier ‘shielded’ by a ‘blocker’.
The referee waved play on and the Blue Bulls went on to score a try.
It is an area that has been hotly debated on this website before, so let us have a look at the laws of the maul applicable to this situation.
Law 17 of the IRB laws for rugby has two very important points we must consider in this instance;
Part of Law 17.4 (f) states:
Law 17.5 goes on to cover when a maul ‘successfully ends’
A maul ends successfully when :
• the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul
• the ball is on the ground
• the ball is on or over the goal line
In both these instances the Blue Bulls were quite legal it seems. The fact that the Leopards broke away from the maul does not mean the maul ended, and none of the factors which contributes to successfully ending a maul applies here either.
This brings us to whether the Blue Bulls were guilty of truck-and-trailor…
The only questions that can be asked is whether the Blue Bulls player (number 1) broke away from the original maul. If he did, the ball carrier (bound to this player) also ‘left’ the original maul which will mean the maul is legally over, and if that player continues to block the ball carrier, it is obstruction.
Below is a video of the incident, starting at 1:29 on the timeline.
For now, I will let you decide whether this try should have been allowed, or whether this was clear obstruction.